Novosanis: a spin-off company from the University of Antwerp

A story of multidisciplinary collaborations

On the 12th of March 2013, Novosanis was founded as a spin-off company from the University of Antwerp. At present, two medical devices are in development: VAX-ID – a device for intradermal vaccination - and Colli-Pee – a device for the collection of first-void urine.

The creation of these two devices, which are the heart of our company, was the result of multidisciplinary collaborations between the University of Antwerp (UAntwerp) and Artesis University College. The UAntwerp’s Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute (VAXINFECTIO) has an ongoing collaboration with the Department of Design and Product Development of the Artesis University College, which aims at the development of medical products, including medical devices that can potentially be introduced on a business market. Students at both institutions often contribute to these projects via their master theses.

VAX-ID

In September 2010, master student Wouter Coemans (Product Development) started working on the VAX-ID (formerly ‘Vaxintradermal’) project in the context of his thesis. The idea for an intradermal vaccination device resulted from the current lack of devices suited for intradermal injection, combined with the fact that intradermal vaccination allows for an improved immune response from a medical point of view. That year, Koen Beyers, CEO of Voxdale - a design and engineering company based in Antwerp - and currently also CTO of Novosanis, became involved in the creation of the VAX-ID by being Wouter Coemans’ industrial supervisor. In 2011, the VAX-ID project was continued by three master students with different backgrounds: Ruben Camerlynck (Product Development), Charlotte Reypens (Applied Economics) and Timothi Van Mulder (Nursing and Obstetrics), who investigated the industrial design, clinical applicability and market potential of the device, respectively. For their work, all three of them were awarded by BiR&D (Belgian Industrial Research and Development). Vanessa Vankerckhoven, at that time appointed as research & innovation manager at VAXINFECTIO, and currently CEO of Novosanis, coordinated the VAX-ID project and was responsible for academic supervision and support for all students involved. Timothi Van Mulder recently joined Novosanis as researcher medical development.

Colli-Pee

In September 2011, master student Lara Biekens (Product Development) started developing a device for non-invasive collection of first-void urine, now known as the Colli-Pee (formerly ‘2Pi’). The concept was inspired by VAXINFECTIO’s researchers: having discovered that first-void urine can be used for the detection of HPV infection, they looked for a device to allow for non-invasive collection of first-void urine. In 2012, this project was, similarly to the VAX-ID project, continued by three master students with different backgrounds: Hanne De Bauw (Product Development), Tina Van Hove (Nursing and Obstetrics) and Ragnar Dienske (Sociology), who each focused on a different part of the development process. Hanne De Bauw’s work was supervised by Koen Beyers and his Voxdale team, while Tina Van Hove’s research was supervised by Timothi Van Mulder. Again, Vanessa Vankerckhoven was responsible for coordination, academic supervision and support for all students involved in the Colli-Pee project.

Novosanis: for a healthy life

In 2013, it was clear that both Colli-Pee and VAX-ID had market potential and a good business case, although additional R&D would be needed. Soon, both devices formed the initial portfolio of Novosanis: a newly founded spin-off company from the University of Antwerp, focusing on design and development of innovative medical devices. Vanessa Vankerckhoven, who coordinated both the VAX-ID and the Colli-Pee project from her position as research & innovation manager at VAXINFECTIO, was appointed Chief Executive Officer, whereas Koen Beyers, involved in the design of both devices, became Chief Technical Officer. Novosanis is now a medical device company with an innovative approach and a bright future, striving for a healthy life for everyone.

 

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